Keeping Reptiles Newsletter
 Issue 14   
October, 2006
Jungle Carpet Python (Morelia spilota cheynei) Care Sheet
In this Issue

by Helena Brusic

The Jungle Carpet Python (Morelia spilota cheynei)  has one of the smallest ranges of all Carpet Pythons and the most famous colouration of this subspecies being the black and gold jungles. The carpet python is a medium-sized slender python with a long neck and a large head with pits on the lips that is broader than the neck.

Natural Location:

Rainforests of Atherton Tablelands of Northeastern Queensland, Australia.

Average Lifespan:

20 - 30 years

Estimated Size:

120 – 210cm (or 4 to 7 feet)

Feeding & Water

Hatchling Jungle Carpet Pythons can be fed weekly by giving them pinky mice, though Neonate Jungle Carpets will often refuse pinkie or fuzzy mice but pounce on a mid- to large-size hopper.

Juveniles eat 1-3 adult mice per feed per week.

Adults can be fed adult mice or 1-2 large rats every 7 to 10 days – though some jungles may refuse to eat rats. If they will not eat rats (they are fussy eaters, and may take up to a day to start feeding) you may get them to switch to rats by rubbing a mouse on the nose and head of the rat. After one feeding this way, they will usually start feeding on rats. Or alternatively feed them small rabbits.

Care should be taken when feeding, as these snakes have large some what fang-like teeth. Match the prey size to the girth of the body, not the size of the head. Prey should be 100% to 125% as large as the widest part of the snake. suggests switching from mice to rats when they reach just under a metre in length.
Note that they prefer eating from the branches and striking the food object from above.

Feed them frozen then thawed food, as live rodents can seriously harm your snake. Always provide water, in a large and heavy container. Clean the water every day.

Temperature, Lighting & Humidity

Provide a heat gradient for your Jungle Carpet Python ranging from 24 degrees C to 30 degrees C (75 degrees F to 86 degrees F). Keep the lights on a 12 hour cycle. Night time temperatures should be kept around 21 degrees C (75 degrees F). Heat mats with a light source (not necessarily UVB) are needed. Keep the humidity level around 65%.


The ideal setup for a Jungle Carpet Python is a large, arboreal cage. Height is more important than width, although the bigger is better all the way around. It is important to make sure that the cage lid is secure, as this species, like most snakes, are known as escape artists.

Provide them lots of branches for climbing, however they should be sturdy and well-secured to protect this active snake from injury while moving around. If you are using a normal reptile cage, it should be at least half the length of the snake. A 180 litre (50 gal) aquarium style tank will suffice for an adult Jungle Carpet Python, but larger, say 450 litre (120 gal) is always best. As with most snakes, hide boxes must be included, but these snakes like to sleep high, so have an elevated box, along with lots of width on some branches to act as alternative sleeping areas..

A variety of substrates can be used from simple substrates such as newspaper to naturalistic enclosures substrates such as crushed coconut shell or soil, the latter provides an aesthetic enclosure that also maintains humidity levels better newspaper or carpeting. Care should be used if using wood shavings to avoid accidental ingestion of the shavings while feeding.

Heath issues

Dysecdysis and retained eye caps are common when humidity levels are kept too low. Regurgitation of food, mouth rot and respiratory infections are common when proper temperatures are not maintained. As with all snakes, Carpet Pythons are susceptible to mites.


When shedding, as with any snake, keep all your movements slow and exact. Their vision is very much affected by the shedding of the eye caps, so they tend to be a little cranky around shedding. If you move slow to let the snake know you mean him no harm, they will remain docile. If your snake does not shed the skin completely, soak him in warm water for 30 minutes (make sure the mouth is not under water) and use a dry towel. Let him crawl though it pulling the old skin off. If the eye caps fail to come off, wet them down and CAREFULLY use a pair of tweezers to remove them.

Breeding Jungle Carpet Pythons

When jungles are in proper health and appropriate size they may ready for breeding.

There are two ways to breed jungle carpet pythons, with breeders arguing both are equally successful.
1.   Pair was cooled and not fed for a couple months during the winter, after which, they were maintained normally and fed well. 
2.   Or a pair can be maintained at normal temps and also fed regularly and otherwise normally maintained (i.e., there was no special cooling or cycling performed).

The eggs can be incubated artificially or naturally.

To incubate naturally: Keep all pairs together year round and they will occasionally be observed copulating during the cooler months.  During the breeding season, males will occasionally stop feeding. 

After breeding, the females will reduce food intake and may even stop as the eggs occupy more area within the female’s body.  When the female is obviously gravid, the male is removed.  The female is given very slightly moist green moss in a subterranean burrow drawer which is kept at around 33 degrees C.  A small water container is also placed in the egg laying chamber for added humidity.  After the female lays her eggs and curls around them. If the female does not have adequate fat reserves, the eggs can be removed for artificial incubation.  The eggs will hatch after 50 days. 

There are not many cooler sights than hatchlings emerging from the mothers coils.  They will feed on fuzzy mice or pinky rats after a few months, and generally prefer larger furred mice as opposed to pinkies.



Make sure snakes shed all their skin... left overs can cause bits of tail to fall off, and then progress up the body til it kills the snake, so maintain correct temperature and humidity.

Do NOT overfeed snake, they will die early and get fat!

Do NOT put new snakes into cages with existing snakes without quarantining them for at least 90 days!! OPMV and other diseases and viruses take at least that length of time to manifest and you don’t want to lose all your snakes from one new one!


Helena is an reptile enthusiast and owner of very friendly and playful jungle carpet pythons called Alex, Hayden, Rowan and Bella. Helena is the founder and creative director of Kali7Design

Brave Little Eyecon

By Greta J

I loved that story of the Hawaii gecko's. Thank goodness it happened to reptile lovers; such an uplifting story. Apart from being concerned about reptiles being dumped anywhere when people have no need for them anymore...there is something else that concerns me - the lack of actual reptile vets.

I have had the unfortunate experience of finding out the hard way when it comes to taking a sick reptile to just an ordinary vet. Four years ago I found a bearded dragon down the paddock which had a nasty infected eye, obviously a bird had-had a go at him, and his eye was in a really bad way, so I knew it would be a vet job for this little guy. I took him, to the Currumbin vet animal hospital.

When I arrived there they could see how bad his eye was full of puss and no sight left whatsoever. They took him out the back for the vet to access. When they bought him back I was told that he'd have to be put down right there and then and that he was suffering badly. So I said no its only his eye, the rest of him is fine, he's eating and has lots of energy, but they insisted on giving him the final jab.

So I said no, I'll take him somewhere else, and walked out with him, nearly crying, worrying that I maybe would get this treatment no matter where I tried to take him. It wasn't something I could fix myself. One of the young assistants ran out after me to the car, and said, "I know of a good reptile vet he's about an hour's drive from here." She even offered to phone him for me and make the appointment the very next morning. I was over the moon.

The next morning I made him as comfy as I could and we set off. When we got there I was told "yes" he could keep him in for at least three weeks, and that the eye would have to be scraped out and then packed in with gauze, but... he could never be returned back to the wild blind in one eye. It cost me $450 but it was worth very cent. I was happy to work longer just to get him right. It was great the day I went back to pick him up., Poor little chap was quite traumatized by the anesthetic, being out of his environment and being handled by people.

When I finally picked him up he pooed all over me – boy, it was everywhere, but it was great. I was excited about keeping him but he had other ideas. I had decided to name him Eyecon. To me he was an icon - that name just seemed to fit everything he was about. For just under a month I nursed him back to health, bathing his eye everyday. I sat outside with him on my lap and shoulder everyday for his sun intake. I made him a little harness out of an old pantyhose because he just wanted to be outside the whole time. Tt was a funny sight.

I didn't know if I should try to keep him knowing that he wasn't happy in captivity, or if I should let him go again, down the paddock (after all he was a local lad). So I looked up to the sky that day and said 'you decide.' The next day the decision was made for me as he broke the harness. I just stood still looking at him. He ran a few steps then turned and looked back at me, it was kind of like he almost smiled to say 'I'll be okay'.

I just quietly said take care Eyecon, I love you! I was very sad that day but I felt it was right. I didn’t see him for at least six weeks and I really missed him. I wondered if I had done the right thing by just letting him go.

One day I came up the driveway in the car, and saw a diamond shaped head sticking up out of the grass on the left side of the paddock. I stopped the car and immediately ran over... guess who? He looked in fab condition and his eye was completely healed. I was so pleased to see him looking like that. Eyecon continued to visit regularly until he moved territory. I would take him up to the house for cuddles and meal worms and then take him back down the paddock again. I hope he's still larkin around somewhere, as he's still in my thoughts lots (love you eyecon).

There's a lack of reptile vets here on the Gold Coast, where I live, and they're selling reptiles everywhere. Very few vets want to know about reptiles, as they're different, yet there is a need for them. There is only one I know of locally, so where do people take them when need one?

Greta J. currently keeps Cunningham Skinks (Abbott & Bubba Girl). Greta works with local pet shops and others to find housing for refugee reptiles and educate people on reptile care.

In the News...
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